Twofer Tuesday: Ken Giles and Astros’ offense


Just a quick visit on a couple of timely topics…..

Ken Giles. Yay or Nay as the closer?

  • We know he was putrid in the playoffs …. 0-2 with a 11.74 ERA and a seat at the far end of the bullpen by the end of the World Series.
  • We know he is very shaky right now. He has a 4.50 ERA in four appearances that included only one save opportunity. That one out save opportunity almost ended up in a blown save and a 9.00 ERA on Monday night.
  • We also know….he has started each of the last two seasons with the Astros with shaky Aprils that rolled into much better Mays thru Septembers. In 2016, Giles ended April with a 9.00 ERA, before putting up a 3.20 ERA and 15 saves over the rest of the season. Last season he had a 4.35 ERA in April, before posting a strong 1.89 ERA and 28 saves thereafter.

The choices are:

  • To wait and see if Giles breaks out of this funk and gets some bite back in his slider that seemed to disappear with the “odd” playoff baseballs and make him the main closer.
  • To move on to Brad Peacock, who has been tough in every situation and earned his first career save this last weekend. However, notice that when they tried to re-use Brad Monday night (rather than after a longer rest) he got into trouble and had to be rescued by Chris Devenski.
  • To move on to Chris Devenski, who has been one of the most dependable bullpen arms since coming up in 2016. Just remember that Devo had a 9.00 ERA in the playoffs, though that might have been due to overuse.
  • Go for an outside arm or a minor league arm.
  • Keep passing the closer mantle back and forth and then use the 4th/5th starters to bolster the back of the bullpen in the playoffs.

Where is the Astros offense or are our memories short?

  • OK – they are still 4th in runs scored in the AL, but after lapping the field in every offensive category last year, this season seems like a big drop-off.
  • But the Astros’ early season offense in 2017 was not a fine oiled machine. Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and Marwin Gonzalez all struggled through a mostly cold April.
  • The Astros scored 4.4 runs per game in April and 5.74 runs for the following 137 games in 2017.
  • The biggest concern may be the fact that the Astros, who had removed strikeouts from their vocabulary last season are currently the 14th worst team in the AL in Ks in 2018.

It does not take long to figure out why the Astros are not scoring well. They have a big stretch of their lineup from about #6 thru #9 and back around thru #1 and #2 (with the exception of the catcher spot) that is not hitting.

  • Normal leadoff George Springer hit a home run in his first AB this season and has been over swinging ever since. (.182 BA/.260 OBP/ .578 OPS)
  • Second half and playoff hero and normal #2 spot filler, Alex Bregman is walking but doing little else (.175 BA/.327 OBP/ .552 OPS and 0 HR)
  • End of the lineup OFs Jake Marisnick (.179/.179/.571 with 13 Ks and 0 walks) and Derek Fisher (.167/ .192/ .526 with 12 Ks and 1 walk) have brought very little to the party as hitters while Fisher has had success as a pinch runner.
  • Evan Gattis has held up the fine tradition of the Astros getting next to nothing out of their DH slot. (.212/.297/.631 and 0 HRs)
  • J.D. Davis has looked more like A.J. Reed with an insanely bad slash line of .111 BA/.159 OBP/.268 OPS

The other side to this coin is to think of how much better this lineup will do when Yuli Gurriel is added back in and Springer and Bregman start to hit. Right now the team has ridden a hot Josh Reddick, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve (though he has 0 HR and only 3 RBIs) Brian McCann and Max Stassi and a lot of serendipity to the 4th spot in runs in the AL.

So where are you at on these two areas of discussion?

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115 comments on “Twofer Tuesday: Ken Giles and Astros’ offense

  1. Marwin’s AB in the 9th shows why he is such an improved hitter. Great plate discipline. He was praying as hard as I was for Rodney to give him a fastball in the zone. He got a heater up high but laid off and ended up walking. Great AB!

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    • Missed almost all of the game today but glad we started to hit the ball. Too many missed opportunities but hopefully we’ll take care of that problem. Bull pen did a good job until the 9th inning HR but that will happen. Now lets go home, regroup, and take 4/4 from the Rangers.

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    • Reminds me of a game last year when McCullers got his nose out of joint with Gattis catching him. I think Hinch had to intervene on that one too.

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  2. Something ain’t right with Lance McCullers, Loretta. I said it last year, I’m saying it again now: he needs to be checked for attention deficit. He losses focus in a New York minute, and when he has runners on, he panics.
    BUT….leaving *12* men on ain’t HIS fault😠. Talk to ya Friday.

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  3. As I was working, I did not watch most of this one. It’s the first loss of the season that really bothers me. Too many issues to list, but the one positive is that the team reacted. I hope they’ve awakened. I also think the manager might just have a word with all 25 next time they have a bit of privacy.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I think it was so early in the game he was hoping LMJ could do a JV and get tough and get outs, Nope its LMJ, great stuff looks a bit like a cosart norris in the head UGH

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      • It was freezing cold and I don’t think Hoyt was ready in time. Strom had to go out and stall, then Stassi. The whole time Lance was getting squeezed by the ump (understandably frustrating), and it left him with having to throw some very hittable pitches. His backdoor curve was just spinning, and lacked bite at times he needed to command it. Just before he gave up the big triple that emptied the bases, I was going to comment on his new delivery where he lands without twisting his back. A few pitches he looked great. Honestly, I don’t make a mountain out of this molehill.

        Can’t under estimate the temperature on these Southern boys, yep! time to regroup and call that series a wrap.

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      • Lance wasn’t getting squeezed. To start that inning he threw 8 consecutive pitches outside the strike zone that were called balls. Then, Jason Castro came up and swung at 3 consecutive pitches outside of the zone. Hinch should have had a guy ready long before the runs started piling up.

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  4. McCullers’ woes are not a molehill, they’re a certified mountain. While watching the Yankees-Red Sox game the MLB network crawler noted that McCullers ERA in his last 11 Regular season games is 7.94. Add that to his HBP melt down in Game 7 and his problems are almost Everest like. I know I harp on his lack of fastball command but some of his misses today were horrendous. I think that while we have some SP depth it ought to be considered to send him down to AAA to work out his mechanics and mental approach.

    On another topic, who goes down when Yuli comes back? I’m leaning toward sending Fisher down not just because Davis seems to be heating up but which of those two guys do you want playing every day? Fisher may have the greater upside but he’s not going to get the ABs to work out of his slump on the MLB roster. Or do you send both of them down to play every day and bring up White or Kemp to fill in?

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    • I guarantee you’re not touching McCullers line in the rotation. Hinch said nobody likes playing in that crap. As a team, we fought back admirably, but It’s over. I watched his start several times (you didn’t comment on his delivery), and he’s fine. Don’t make more out of it than it is. One poorly resulting inning. This doesn’t go back to the WS, and even if it did – he didn’t give up any runs in that game! Get over it. He’s still in line to be an ace on this team and you can book that. He lost his grip on a few pitches on a 40 degree day, a kid from Florida. Calm down.

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  5. So would you rather have a rotation of:
    Verlander
    Keuchel
    McCullers
    Cole
    Morton

    or
    Keuchel
    McCullers
    Morton
    McHugh
    Peacock/ Martes/ Armenteros/ Paulino or even Musgrove

    The trades for Verlander and Cole look better by the day as Keuchel and McCullers look like anything but TORs….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lance McCullers entered the game leading the league with 14.98 SO/9, and a respectable ERA.

      We will bring in the younger guys when they’ve earned it, and we’re probably *considering letting McHugh spot start, but none of that is going to happen unless there’s legitimate injury in the OD starters for at least a few rotations more.

      After Peacock has been (over) used as a longman now, we’re going to need the bullpen help. I find it very telling that Giles wasn’t brought in to close today. After struggles by Sipp and Smith, it’s looking a little thin, and although Paulino deserves a chance to continue starting, he would’ve been my choice before Hoyt.

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  6. I’d shift the rotation around to:
    Verlander
    Cole
    Morton
    LMJ/McHugh
    Keuchel/McHugh
    In other words, McHugh deserves a shot at the rotation.

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  7. An encouraging sign: the offense sprang to life in the aftermath of McCullers’ meltdown. Bregman had 4 hits – including a big booming double and a bomb. Now if Springer will just wake up. Furthermore, even with Stassi k-ing three times, as a team we still managed to avoid double-digit offensive strikeouts.

    Meanwhile, the bullpen, sans Hoyt, was absolute nails – er . . . well, except for the last, 3-2 pitch Peacock threw to Max Kepler.

    Back to warmer weather Friday. Come on boys- it’s time to wake up and shine.

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  8. Perhaps this year the F.O. will do with the bullpen arms what it did with the starters last year. Assuming a few of Paulino, Martes, Armenteros, Guduan, Gustave, and McCurry do well at their milb posts, could the F.O. ‘DL-Rest’ Devenski, Peacock, and McHugh the way they DL-rested Keuchel and McCullers last year, and let the prospects throw some mid- to long-relief outings during the summer months?

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  9. As bad as the Rangers’ season has started out, it just got a whole lot worse. Elvis Andrus got hit in the elbow last night in the bottom of the ninth inning by a fastball thrown by Angels’ reliever Keynan Middleton. Two Angels had been hit earlier in the game – including Mike Trout in the top of the frame.

    Andrus’ whose elbow was fractured, was slashing .327/.426/.926, 2 HR and 5 RBI. He had walked 8 times and struck out only 2 in 61 plate appearances.

    I don’t like the Rangers, but I hate to see this.

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